In the first of three Connecticut senatorial debates, Joe Lieberman put his pathological lying right on display for everyone to see. As I've said before - these aren't normal lies. These are pathological lies, in that they are well-calculated and thought up beforehand, rather than simply lies blurted out in the moment. I've worked against a lot of dishonest people, but never in my life have I worked against someone who quite literally goes out of his way to lie to people. The fact that he can do it with a straight face is rather frightening. Each candidate had 17 minutes total to speak in this debate - and below you will see at least 6 clear pathological lies by Lieberman, meaning he was lying at a rate of one lie every three minutes.
Then again, before we get to the lies, I want to say I believe the most damning line of the whole debate came not when Lieberman lied, but when Ned got him on the defensive with the facts and Lieberman refused to give a straight answer about why Connecticut is 49 out of 50 in its rate of federal investment. He said that's because Connecticut is a wealthy state - and then refused to answer why when he was first elected Connecticut used to get 88 cents back for every dollar it sent to Washington, and now it gets just 66 cents back. Apparently, Lieberman hasn't been to places like Bridgeport or New Haven in a while. If he had been, he would understand just how out-of-touch it is for him to dismiss his failure to deliver as totally acceptable because he thinks everyone in Connecticut is rolling in cash.
CLAIM: "If you want to know the problem, take a look at the way people reacted to Kim Jong Il blowing up a nuke. Repubs blame Clinton, Dems blame Bush. The blame should go to Kim Jong Il. Both parties have failed to stop that from happening." - Joe Lieberman, 10/16/06 senatorial debate
FACT: In 2003 when running for President in the Democratic primary, Lieberman attacked President Bush on North Korea. He said: "When it comes to the situation in Iraq, you can agree with President Bush's policy, as I do, or you can disagree, but everyone would have to concede it has been clear and consistent. Unfortunately, that has not been the case with the administration's policy on North Korea, which has been unclear, inconsistent and counterproductively confrontational. The more we learn about that policy, in fact, the more it seems the president and his team have failed to look strategically beyond each step they were taking, thus acting more like an emotional minor player than the steady great power we are. In doing so, they have helped turn a difficult challenge on the Korean peninsula into a dangerous crisis." [Lieberman statement, 1/8/03]
CLAIM: "Working together across party lines, Senator Collins and I brought out a bill to protect our ports and it passed. It has been signed. The three ports in CT will now be more secure from potential use by terrorists to bring WMD into our country." - Joe Lieberman, 10/16/06 senatorial debate
FACT: Like the No Child Left Behind Act, the port security bill Lieberman is referring to merely authorizes money - it doesn't actually fund anything, meaning there is no guarantee that Connecticut will receive any new money. Additionally, transit and rail security was wholly stripped out of the bill. Today, Congress's own researchers report that Connecticut now receives the lowest per-capita homeland security funding in the Northeast, despite Lieberman being on the Homeland Security Committee. The Stamford Advocate reports that Connecticut receives just 1.5 percent of transportation security funding targeted at the tri-state area. The Hartford Courant reported last month that Connecticut has seen an 86% cut in its federal homeland security funding. Lieberman skipped every vote to fund the new Department of Homeland Security - even skipping what would have been a tie-breaking vote to target homeland security funds to Connecticut cities. After this legislation was defeated, New Haven was cut off from the high-threat urban areas program. [Sources: Stamford Advocate, 11/6/05; Hartford Courant, 9/10/06; 10/16/06; CRS report, 12/13/04; CT Dept. of Transportation report, 6/06; Bond Buyer, 8/1/05; Senate Vote #302, 7/24/03; Yale Daily News, 1/6/06]
CLAIM: "I have not supported the Bush administration's social security privatization plan. The record shows I have been against it during the entire Bush administration...I'm never going to do damage to SS...I concluded it was a terrible idea in the 1990s. Ever since then throughout the Bush administration I've been against it." - Joe Lieberman, 10/16/06 senatorial debate
FACT: In 1996, Lieberman voted for Social Security privatization. In 1998, Lieberman said privatization "has to happen." In 2000, the New York Times reported that "Lieberman has suggested that he could support allowing workers to invest a portion of their payroll taxes in the private markets. That is Mr. Bush's position." In 2005, Lieberman told the Hartford Courant it is "great" that President Bush was pushing privatization. In March 2005, NY Times columnist Paul Krugman noted that Lieberman "gave the administration cover by endorsing its fake numbers" pushing privatization. [Sources: Senate Vote 149, 5/23/96; Copley News Service, 5/4/98; ;Hartford Courant, 1/9/05; NY Times, 3/15/05]
CLAIM: "The facts show that the New York Times shows he laid off 68 percent of his workers while he paid himself a very large salary." - Joe Lieberman, 10/16/06 senatorial debate
FACT: The Hartford Courant evaluated Lieberman's ad claim and said Lieberman "plays loose with the facts." The New York Times did not report that Ned Lamont laid off 68 percent of the people at his cable company. The Times actually reported that "The number of employees [at Lamont Digital Systems] dropped to about 40 today from a high of about 125" - but it never said that drop was due to layoffs. Why? Because they weren't due primarily to layoffs - not even close. After 9/11 when many businesses were struggling, Lamont's company was forced to sell some of its systems to other companies. While the total employment at Lamont Digital Systems declined, many of the jobs were simply moved to other companies, not eliminated. Specifically, less than one third of LDS's employment shift cited in Lieberman's ads were layoffs in the wake of 9/11. The majority of the other two thirds that left LDS left voluntarily (aka. for a new job, etc.). The New York Times' reporting that LDS employed 125 people is factually inaccurate. LDS's peak employment came in April of 2002 with 95 employees - not 125. Company records show Ned Lamont's average salary since the time in question after 9/11 was $188,000 - roughly the same salary as a U.S. Senator, and far below the average salary of a CEO. [Source: Hartford Courant, 10/13/06; Lamont Digital Systems salary records; New York Times, 8/3/06; LDS employment records]
CLAIM: "We've got to use carrots and not sticks to help small businesses cover their workers with affordable health insurance." - Joe Lieberman, 10/16/06
FACT: When universal health care was being debated in the 1990s On 1/5/95, Lieberman authored a poison-pill bill that the Boston Globe said would "limit employers' ability to deduct health costs from their taxes." According to the Omaha World Herald, "businesses can take a tax deduction for all health-care spending" but Lieberman's "plan would limit the ability of businesses to deduct employee health benefit costs." Put another way, Lieberman proposed to raise taxes on small business health benefits. [Sources: Boston Globe, 8/20/94; Omaha World Herald, 8/20/94]
CLAIM: "I want to end the war in Iraq." - Joe Lieberman, 10/16/06 senatorial debate
FACT: Lieberman has opposed every effort to force President Bush to change course in Iraq. Just weeks ago, Lieberman's campaign held a press conference to have its hand-picked surrogates say "I support Joe Lieberman because he has consistently said we are going to 'stay the course.'" His recent speech on Iraq included no new ideas and plenty of empty promises. He said he'd get tough with the Iraqi's, yet in a complete about face the Hartford Courant reported the next day that he had "a pleasant conversation" with the Iraqi President about the progress being made. As the Waterbury Republican American reported last month, Lieberman recently "unveiled his plan for going forward with the war." [Sources: Lieberman campaign event, 9/13/06; Waterbury Republican American, 9/26/06]
As an aside - I thought Ned really did well today, and I don't say that because I am working for him. He was calm and cool, hit Lieberman with the facts and presented a positive message of change. Lieberman tried to rely on the "I get things done" claim, but then was forced to admit that, in fact, Connecticut gets the second lowest amount back for its tax dollar since Lieberman was elected. Lieberman was totally defensive - and the decent performance by Republican nominee Alan Schlesinger does no favors for Joe either.
This race is going to come down to the wire - especially with our new ads here and here using Joe's own words against him. There are a lot of naysayers out there - as there always have been. But this race is trending in the right direction right now.
(DISCLOSURE: I have long been a volunteer supporter of Ned Lamont's candidacy and written extensively about the race. As of Labor Day, I am officially working with the Lamont for Senate campaign on research. The writing on this blog is my own, and not the official work I do for the Lamont campaign.)